“It’s like the best 18 hour indie movie ever made.” – Patton Oswalt
If you were to ask the executives at NBC in the spring of 2000, right after it’s cancellation, they’d be surprised if people were still talking about the show Freaks and Geeks next week, let alone 20 years later.
And yet here we are. 20 years ago this week, Freaks and Geeks graced our screens. And with it, it single-handedly ushered in the next big wave of comedy.
In the age of TGIF on ABC and Seinfeld and Friends, the prospect of a single-camera dramady about teens in high school in the 1980’s was a high level risk. Sure teen shows were all the rage, but this wasn’t your standard 90210. There was something much deeper, and much more raw, going on here.
Freaks and Geeks feels like the most realistic portrayal of high school that there’s ever been on television. There’s smoking, drinking, sex, and everything else your parents warned you about when you were a kid. And a whole ton of sheer awkwardness that never would have found its way into a sitcom, especially back in the 90’s when everybody had to be model-perfect. There truly was something for everyone to relate to.
Since its cancellation in 2000, everybody from the show has gone onto doing something bigger. If you look at it now, you would be amazed by the star power of James Franco, Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, Linda Cardellini, John Francis Daley, Jason Segal, Busy Phillips, and Samm Levine. Even cameo actors like Rashida Jones and Shia LaBeouf have popped after the show went off the air.
If it was to come out today, it would be the biggest show on television and one people just won’t stop talking about. Even though it was cancelled after one season, it has had this bizarre enormous staying power and has found itself embedded in the realm of pop culture.
It just goes to show that, even something that is written off as being “unsuccessful” might have more juice in it than you give it credit for.